16-Oct-2000 -- Well, if my visit to
43° N, 85° W on Saturday,
October 15, 2000 transpired on a day "more like summer than fall,"
then my visit the next day, Sunday October 16, to 43° N, 84° W took place on
a day more like November than October. The weather was very gray,
threatening rain and cool. Furthermore, I had some of those old "job jar"
chores to take care of in the morning, and we had company coming for dinner
later in the afternoon.
But, hey ... when one is focused on the mission to locate and document
confluences, one must push forward with all due determination with the resources at
hand. So it was that at around 2 PM I mounted and fired up the Mighty Red
Confluence Explorer (a.k.a. my red '88 BMW K75S motorcycle) with maps, a borrowed
Magellan GPS and camera aboard. Departing my home in Williamston, Michigan I
headed out for the confluence location, approximately 9 miles east of Owosso,
Michigan along highway M-21 and less than 100 yards north of the roadside. My
normal modus operandi is travel the back roads when motorcycling, but short on
time, I opted for the most direct route, at least for the ride up. My preparation revealed
that the confluence destination was 37 miles by fastest routing, including an 18 mile
northeast stretch on the I-69 "slab" from M-52 at Perry to northbound M-13.
As I traveled east-northeast bound on I-69 towards the M-13 exit, the sky lowered
and darkened. "Hmmmm," I thought to myself, "I'm not too crazy about
the looks of this." Since the weather radar was not showing any precipitation in the
vicinity, I had opted to ride without rain gear. "This could get ugly..."
Exiting north on to M-13, the sky continued to deteriorate. There was, however, no
sign of imminent rain, so with resolve I proceeded on to the confluence location.
By the time I arrived at the intersection of 84° W with M-21, the sky was very gray
indeed, with a light mist (almost fog) permeating the air. But I was there, and it wasn't
raining! Stopping on the shoulder alongside the north edge of two-lane M-21, I found
that once again, like my visit to 43° N, 85° W, the spot where 43° N and 84° W
intersected was highly representative of the land in which it resided. This part of
Michigan exists along the southern edge of the Saginaw Valley region, an area of flat
land and rich soil supporting very productive agriculture. Like much of southern
Michigan, the region was settled by pioneering immigrant farmers during the
early-to-mid 1800s (read, for instance, "The Last Farmer," by Howard Kohn,
for a fascinating account of one family's settlement and farming of this area).
Walking carefully, I headed less than 300' north from the roadside when the GPS
showed me that I was at the confluence. And, like so much of the land around me, I
was amidst a farmer's field. The pictures taken at the confluence location tell the story,
and the spot is very typical of the land for miles around.
Having succeeded in achieving and documenting the confluence, I packed my
things back up and launched for the return ride home. The weather, ugly though it was,
still held up without opening up on me, and I had sufficient time on my hands. So I took
the opportunity for a back road trip home. I doubled back on M-21 to pick up Durand
Rd., where I headed south. Taking Durand Rd. all the way into the north edge of the
small town of Durand (a significant Michigan railroad center back when the rails were
king), I picked up the old Saginaw Highway (which I-69 superseded) southwest bound.
I followed this old and historic byway, the first time I'd traveled this stretch in many, many
years, all the way down to Shaftsburg Rd., where I dropped south and followed it and
Williamston Rd. back home.
Pulling into the driveway I felt pleased that I had bagged yet another confluence,
and not a drop of rain to boot! 'Twas a fine, short afternoon’s adventure.